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d3o in shoes for skateboarders


d3o lab was granted a government SMART award in 2003 and 2004 for the development of a high technology application. Since then they have been developing the technology in the laboratory and working with a diverse range of companies from medical to extreme sports to realise the material’s potential.

The material qualities of d3o are unlike any other material currently available and it has an endless list of possible uses as a result. Richard Palmer, Managing Director of d3o lab comments: “we get enquiries from customers and researchers alike every day, the many varied future possibilities of the material are very exciting for us.”

So when Globe shoes contacted d3o about an idea to put d3o into a skate shoe, d3o lab were very interested, but didn’t realise quite how valuable a material like this would be to a skateboarder, when incorporated into a shoe designed for this specific sport.

A 4mm thick sheet of d3o material is inserted between the midsole and the sock liner along the whole length of the “Icon” shoe from heel to toe, replacing a thick 20-25mm piece of EVA foam. The d3o sheet has a lattice structure, which means it is light and breathable, ideal for this application. What this has meant for the design of a skate shoe is a significant development. It is now possible to produce a lower profile shoe that is in tune with the body movements of the wearer, and is reactive when he or she needs it, reducing painful heel and foot bruising, which is a common problem for skateboarders who often land from heights of up to 3 meters.

In tests using a specially designed testing rig with an integral electronic force transducer to measure the amount of force transmitted through each material, the results show that d3o transmits half the force of EVA foam whilst spreading this over twice the area, effectively making it 4 times better at impact pressure absorption.

Richard Palmer, Managing director of d3o Lab, said he believes the material will be a godsend for skateboarders.

“We have worked with a number of skate professionals to understand their real needs and the response we have had in tests has been fantastic. Unlike EVA d3o is also soft and flexible which gives the rider great feedback and control as well as much better shock absorption from big jumps,” he says. d3o lab are focused on working closely with sports professionals to improve biometrics (body freedom) and by using d3o they will gain a considerable advantage in their field.
Al Partanan, Globe skate team manager said, “It looks great and feels insane.”

This is such a significant development because it means that the skateboarder has the potential to vastly improve his or her performance as a result of the increased level of control over the skateboard. We are all familiar with the advancements in footwear for professional running for example; the runner demands a lightweight, totally responsive shoe designed around their individual foot mechanics. Issues such as pronation or supination (roll of the foot when in motion), the need for increased midfoot support or motion control as a result of the runner’s individual needs are all taken into account when designing a shoe for the professional. As with any sport at the top level, control is a big part of getting the best performance out of your body, which is the philosophy behind the Icon shoe.

Ruth Gough | alfa
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